How we gather and process information, make decisions and respond to situations is driven in large part by our personality. The jobs we love and hate, the people we're drawn to and the ones we avoid, how we show up in teams, and our core beliefs about ourselves and the world are all massively impacted by our personality preferences. That's why getting curious about personality is key to the inner game of investing, leadership, careers and life.
Being curious about personality is an endeavour in connecting deeply with how our personality is creating fabulous strengths and intersecting with our ego to create just as beautiful shadows. Carl Jung’s frameworks and theories are our favourite tools in support of this discovery. Jung's personality theory is a comprehensive framework that explores the fundamental aspects of human personality how it impacts our behaviour, perception, and overall cognitive functioning.
Jung asserted individuals have a dominant cognitive function that influences their decision-making process – thinking or feeling. Thinkers rely on logic, objectivity, and rationality when making choices, while feelers emphasise subjective values, empathy, and personal relationships. Thinkers prioritise analysis and often adopt a detached approach, while feelers prioritise harmony and strive for interpersonal connection.
Jung adds the concept of intuiting and sensing as additional cognitive functions. Individuals who are more inclined toward intuition rely on their unconscious processes, focusing on possibilities, patterns, and future implications. They tend to trust their gut instincts and have a knack for perceiving underlying meanings. In contrast, individuals who favour sensing engage with the immediate sensory experience, relying on concrete information and paying attention to details in the present moment.
Jung's final dimension is the introversion-extroversion spectrum. While these terms are commonly associated with social behaviour, Jung defined them in terms of an individual's energy orientation. Introverts are inclined to draw energy from their internal world, requiring solitary time to recharge. They tend to be reflective, introspective, and more reserved in social interactions. On the other hand, extroverts derive energy from the external world and thrive in social settings. They are typically outgoing, sociable, and seek stimulation from their surroundings.
Jung emphasised these dimensions exist on a continuum, and individuals exhibit varying degrees of each trait. Jung also believed individuals possess both conscious and unconscious aspects of their personality, and a healthy personality requires the integration and balancing of these various dimensions.
Practicing the inner game requires us to make our unconscious personality strengths and shadows, conscious. As Jung said: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
Discovering your personality strengths will reveal what you’re naturally good at. Constructing a career that allows you to play to your strengths helps to ensure you source energy from your work, which is essential for building a career you love.
Discovering your personality shadows, on the other hand, is the starting point for deep self-awareness. Decisive / insensitive, factual / cold, animated / self-promoting, caring / submissive are all examples of the shadows to our strengths, and are often the one big thing that we need to embrace and work on to elevate our leadership impact.
Shadows are amplified when they’re being perceived by someone with a very different personality type. That’s why so much team conflict comes from personality differences. Yet we need to have differences to benefit from diverse viewpoints, style and thought – an essential ingredient to high performing teams. When we understand where people are coming from, we’re less likely to take those different styles personally and instead play to each other’s strengths.
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” Carl Jung
There are stacks of tools that can help you and your team understand individual and teamwide strengths and shadows. We love working with the Clarity 4D profile as a fun and simple starting point for our programs, and find it’s a great foundation upon which to add deeper insights into ego, mindset and identity. Whatever tool you use, working with strengths and shadows across your team is key to creating the trust and unlocking the understanding that leads to high performance.
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